guarantee success. In other words, this research recognizes and establishes SME success as a multidimensional phenomenon, affected by both firm-internal (enterprise) and firm-external (entrepreneurial and business environment) factors. The general view of this study is that if small businesses strive towards satisfying the identified critical success factors (CSFs) then they will be successful and achieve sustainable growth. During this process and since, change is identified as the one constant feature to be faced by chemical distributors in the future, and flexibility and adaptability are deemed very important assets for SMEs in the selected industry. The ability to keep changing and adapting to new market conditions quickly is also considered a key to success and sustainable growth.

The most important factors affecting the success of SMEs in the UK chemical distribution market continue to be legal and regulatory, and ecological and environmental. Complying with current legal requirements, coping with strong regulatory trends, and overcoming future regulatory challenges are seen as critical in the success of small businesses in this industry. Inevitably, all SMEs operating in the UK and European chemical distribution industry must fully implement the measures necessary to comply with regulations otherwise face the real risk of being excluded from the market. A compliance strategy needs to be developed and implemented while a long-term, flexible outlook on regulatory requirements, especially on REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) and competition law, must be maintained. This becomes even more critical in the era of Brexit, as the UK detaches itself from the European Union, where regulatory

Chemicals Distribution/Brexit

financial support and loans, the provision of education, training, infrastructure, and advisory services

Critical success factors for SMEs are not only dependent upon the country and industry settings but are also influenced by any radical changes in the wider business environment. Recent events in the European political arena have altered the landscape and increased the level of volatility and uncertainty.

changes are to be expected. Once again, the uncertainty of whether laws, regulations and requirements will change, be modified, or even abolished — not to mention the introduction of new ones — reinforces the criticality of compliance. Initially, it appears that there have been no significant changes in the factors that are critical to SME success in the UK chemical distribution industry. However, upon closer examination, a distinct shift within the success factors is noted. In more detail, certain factors, namely:

(i) the political environment incorporating political stability, absence of internal conflict and tensions, internal and foreign investment, exchange rate fluctuations, formulation of new relevant laws and regulations, tax policies,

About the authors Evripidis (Evri) Lampadarios

Evripidis (Evri) Lampadarios is a business manager in the UK chemical distribution industry. He is also a part time lecturer in business strategy and supply chain management at Leeds Beckett University and visiting lecturer at Leeds Trinity University. His professional and academic areas of expertise include but are not limited to SMEs, success and growth, business strategy, supplier, product and channel management, and operations with a special focus in the chemical and chemical distribution industry. He has published several papers on SMEs and the chemical distribution industry and is a reviewer in the Journal of Business Chemistry, the International Journal of Business and Management and the Journal of Research in Business, Economics and Management.

Niki Kyriakidou

Niki Kyriakidou is a senior lecturer of human resource management and organizational behaviour in Leeds Business School, Leeds Beckett University, UK. Her research interests are in the areas of international strategic human resource management and development, workplace wellbeing, diversity, and employability. She is the co-chair of the international human resource management unit of the European and Mediterranean Business Institute (EMBRI), and a visiting professor at the social policy unit in the department of business administration at West Attica University.

Issue 2 • March/April 2021 51

(ii) financial resources, level of capitalization, available government and private funding, cash flow management, additional and unexpected expenses necessary to conduct business and

(iii) internationalization in the form of new trading agreements with the EU and other major exporting markets, planned outward movements, revising exporting strategies that were previously not considered critical are now deemed as highly influential in the success of small businesses in the specific industry.

The fact that the number of success factors has increased from eight to eleven further suggests that Brexit has created a far more complex and challenging environment for UK small and medium-sized chemical distributors to operate in. In other words, Brexit has destabilized the environment small businesses operate in and has inevitably altered the perceptions of owners/ managers on which factors are now critical to success.

Notes: • This article is based on the authors’ book chapter Critical Success Factors for SMEs in the UK Chemical Distribution Industry: The ‘Brexit’ Effect, in The Changing Role of SMEs in Global Business, Volume I: Paradigms of Opportunities and Challenges, Eds: Thrassou, A., Vrontis, D., Weber, Y., Shams, S.M.R., Tsoukatos, E., Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 155-177 • Featured image by deepakrit under a Pixabay licence

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